Durban — There was drama at a National Women’s Day event when President Cyril Ramaphosa’s security officials prevented an attempt to arrest him over the Farmgate scandal.
While the president and his entourage received a warm welcome when entering Slahla sports field outside Richmond in the Midlands, members of civil rights organisation Real Democracy, who had come to make a citizen’s arrest of the president, were prevented by his security detail from executing their plan.
The group was stopped at the VVIP gate and, after being questioned by security staff, were prevented from entering the event, and instead were attended to by staff from the Presidency.
A SAPS legal representative who introduced himself to the group as Iqbal Latiff, said there was no reason for Real Democracy attempting to arrest the president, since the Farmgate matter was still under investigation by various law enforcement agencies, including the Hawks.
A Presidency official, Roshni Singh, accepted a “charge sheet” with seven counts against Ramaphosa.
Count one, according to the charge sheet, concerned the burning issue that has been dubbed Phala Phala Farmgate, where the president allegedly stashed a large amount foreign currency in a couch and a mattress.
The money was reportedly stolen during a burglary in 2020.
Other charges included the Marikana massacre in 2012, for which the group said he must be charged for allegedly instructing the police to take action against striking miners.
The massacre saw 34 of them killed. There were also charges of tax evasion and dismantling and selling off state-owned enterprises without proper consultation with the public.
Speaking to the Daily News, Real Democracy spokesperson Srini Naidoo said they were disappointed with the police, who he accused of violating their right to make a citizen’s arrest.
He said that Section 42 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 allowed for the arrest of a suspect by a private person/s without a warrant.
Naidoo said that after the arrest they were going to hand over Ramaphosa to the nearest police station. The group went to the Richmond police station, where it laid the same charges.
“We came from Pietermaritzburg to exercise our constitutional duty as citizens of the country, but we are disappointed that we were prevented from arresting the president by the police who are supposed to uphold the laws of the country. We explained that we had the right to arrest the president, but we were stopped.
“Ramaphosa is not supposed to be called president any more after committing such serious crimes,” he said.
Apart from that, the event went well.
The president was accompanied by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women and People living with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, new ANC provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma, and premier-elect Nomusa Dube-Ncube. They all received a warm welcome from the crowd. Dube-Ncube stood in for outgoing premier Sihle Zikalala.
Unlike during his closing address at the KZN ANC’s 9th elective conference two weeks ago, Ramaphosa looked relaxed and joked with the crowd.
Two weeks ago he had difficulties when a group at the conference rolled their hands in the air as a sign of rejection.